Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Stay Classy CoStar, Stay Classy

WTAF? “Person of the week”? Michael Ketchmark (the attorney who brought and won the commission lawsuits against NAR and other industry players) is CoStar’s hero now?


NAR CEO Bob Goldberg to Retire at the End of 2024

“Bob’s selfless commitment to our association has been inspiring to me and to everyone who’s served on NAR’s leadership team these past six years,” said 2023 NAR President Kenny Parcell. “He’s done so much in a relatively short time that will help Realtors® and consumers thrive both today and decades into the future. I’m incredibly thankful for that, and I know each of our members has Bob to thank for the innovations and advancements he’s championed in real estate markets across the world.”

Soon after becoming CEO, Bob spearheaded creation of the association’s Strategic Business, Innovation, and Technology team. Today, more than 220 global firms have been scaled through NAR’s growth accelerator, REACH, and its investment arm, Second Century Ventures.

Just one domestic REACH program was operating in the U.S. when Goldberg’s tenure began in 2017. Seven global entities now serve consumers, real estate agents and technology innovators, with REACH programs active in Canada, the United Kingdom and Latin America, among others. REACH participation has grown from 40 global enterprises to 211 in that time—a 400% expansion in less than six years—while SCV has simultaneously increased its investments from 12 to 73.”

I think it’s pretty well known that I’m a huge fan of Bob. His contributions have had an enormous impact on organized real estate. His journey over the past 4 decades is remarkable. From his days at PRC, the internet, portal wars, SCV, the GFC, Proptech, COVID, sub 3% interest rates, and the inventory crisis. May you live in interesting times indeed.

As of today, NAR membership is at its highest level ever, and more consumers used a REALTOR last year than any other year before.


Vendor Alley Sponsorships Available

Looking to promote your product or service? Or maybe you got some big news to share?

This year I have started something new. Month-long sponsorships. This is the only way to promote your product or service specifically to Vendor Alley’s audience of Real Estate insiders, geeks, vendors, MLS peeps, Association staff, Brokers, and Franchisor heavies.  If you want your message to reach the top decision-makers, influencers, and connoisseurs of fine satire in Organized Real Estate (ORE) you’ll only get it at Vendor Alley. More information can be found here.

I’ve got March available. Hit me up if you are looking for a deal: vendor.alley@gmail.com

I need a favor

My son Toby is doing a school project. He is enrolled in the Center for International Business and Communication Studies (CIBACS) program. His team is pitching product ideas to a local company in Huntington Beach, CA. As part of that project, he needs to do a product survey. He is looking for as much feedback as possible. So it would be great if you took a few minutes and fill out the survey below.

Click here to participate in the survey = > Exploration Industries Product Survey

Thanks, I really appreciate it.

Looking for a little help….

My company, W+R Studios, is running a “Fall Promo” this year. For the first time we are offering all agents the chance to try all our products in the Cloud Agent Suite free until the end of the year. That means agents could have as much as 3 months of free service, this includes our premium product, Cloud Attract, which is usually over $100 per month. And also for the first time we are releasing the new Cloud CMA to all current and new agents.

I recruited some of our W+R employees and made a short video to promote the special offer. I really think it came out great.

What we need to do now is spread the word. So we’ve made it super simple for our friends who want to help by providing 2 things.

1. A co-branded landing page. Here’s what MFRMLS’ looks like:

2. A personalized Media Kit. This will have sample emails, copy, social posts, everything you need. Check out this link to see what MFRMLS Media Kit looks like —->Click to see MFRMLS Media Kit

So please drop Katie or me a line and we will build you a co-branded landing page and send you a personalized media kit.

katie [at] wrstudios dot com
greg [at] wrstudios dot com

If you don’t need a landing page or kit, just sent them to http://cloudagentsuite.com

One of the side effects I’m noticing is that this promotion really helping driving adoption. A lot of the signups are for free member benefit tools. So help me, help you!

The team has some pretty hefty goals, so even if its one email, or one post on your MLS login page, it would really help.

Thanks in advance!

TAR says no to HAR

shoot in footAndrea V. Brambila for Inman News

Texas Realtors won’t provide member info to competing statewide Realtor site, HAR.com

“Last week, in a 23-to-16 vote, TAR’s executive board rejected a motion from HAR that would have had TAR send HAR a data feed, updated daily, of TAR’s membership roster, complete with names and contact information. In the motion HAR said it would have paid any costs associated with providing the feed and promised not to use the list to solicit TAR members to join HAR or its MLS.”

HAR is asking for membership information, not listing data. And they’ll pay all implementation costs. Seems like a no-brainer. Especially cause…

“Nationally, HAR.com was the 19th most visited real estate site in June with 1.32 million unique visitors in June, according to comScore. By contrast, comScore does not track TexasRealEstate.com’s traffic because the site doesn’t meet a threshold of around 50,000 unique visitors per month.”

emphasis mine.

“TAR suggested that, instead of a data feed, TAR could offer HAR a widget that would pull in profile information from TexasRealEstate.com when consumers search for Realtors on HAR.com. The information would appear in framed results, giving TexasRealEstate.com a traffic boost. TAR has not yet developed the suggested widget.”

LOL, “a widget”. The guys at Zillow and Trulia are laughing there asses off right now.

Industry relations….

NAR just sent out this message to its membership.

“NAR: We stand with those who respect our Realtor® members
NAR is joining a lawsuit filed by MOVE Inc., against Zillow and new Zillow Chief Industry Development Officer Errol Samuelson. In addition to NAR and MOVE, the plaintiffs include RealSelect, Inc., Top Producer Systems Company, and Realtors® Information Network, Inc.

NAR’s relationship with MOVE and realtor.com® is based on a mutual respect for Realtors® and their efforts to bring online home buying and selling resources to consumers, and the defendants named in the lawsuit have not demonstrated that same respect.”

If Zillow’s intentions of hiring Errol and now Curt was to improve industry relations it sounds like the plan may have backfired. Time will tell.

CMLS 2013 is next week, and we’ve got you covered.

It’s hard to believe that CMLS 2013 is next week. And despite the bitching and groaning about having to take two flights in to Boise, or the lack of a W hotel, CMLS 2013 is breaking records. Why? Because it the best damn conference of the year. Especially if your an MLS professional. So when you’re at the lobby bar and see Greg Manship or Jay Gordon (our two host this year) buy them a drink. And by a staff member a drink too. As many of you know, putting on this conference is no small task, so show a little love.

I’m showing the love the days running up to CMLS by posting a series of articles about various things I think are interesting about the MLS business today. So starting today don’t forget to check Vendor Alley for all cocktail conversation starters.

Big brokers seek to shut down MLS public facing websites.

There’s a lot of brouhaha over amendments to the MLS Policy Statement 7.57 outlined in the report and recommendations of the MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board (say that five times fast). Overall the issues revolve around what types of services should an MLS provider, should well, provide. And should they “profit” from those services. As you can imagine this has caught everyones attention.

Recently Cathy Holefelder, president of CMLS (Council of MLS) drafted a letter with recommendations to the committee from the CMLS board of directors. You can find the letter and other information at the CMLS website. I think these recommendations, as you can imagine, are well thought out.

But another entity has jumped in to the frey with their own letter to the committee. Bob Moline, President and Chief Operating Officer of HomeServices of America. Here’s the money shot…

“We have no doubt, based on proposals and communications of others of which you are, no doubt, aware, that some want to use the fees and dues collected by MLSs and Associations to actively market public-facing sites. Such expenditures–and the public facing websites themselves–would put MLSs and Associations in competition with many of their broker-members, specifically their larger broker-members.

Therefore, we strongly suggest that the proposed new language on advertsing specifically exclude the use of MLS of Association dues or fees to market public-facing website.

[emphasis mine]

If you can’t promote a site, then what’s the point?

To me this letter is pretty transparent. HomeServices represents some of the largest brokers of the country. HomeServices doesn’t have any responsibility to “enable Participants and Subscribers to better their clients, customers and the public” (as it states in the Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy).

Balancing the needs of brokers of all sizes is one of the biggest challenges MLS providers face on a day to day basis. HomeServices heavy handed approach shows a lack of understanding of the clear benefits MLS public facing websites, and other services provided by MLS providers. These services give all members, not just the biggest, the chance to succeed.

The drama in DC is just beginning….

Lead Ambiguity

One of the favorite vendor pastimes is trying to solve “the big problems” in online real estate today. This happens in hallway conversations, lobby bars, or big plush chairs in hotel lobbies. One of the biggest topics is the fact that most agents don’t respond to leads. Who cares if your site has tons of traffic, if the leads it generates don’t get responded to? And if you are selling products to agents that claim to generate leads then you have a bigger problem. Retention.

Typically the conversation ends in a head shake, a swirl of the adult beverage you’ve been sipping on, and the muttering…

“Stupid agents”.

I got a call from Dave Howe from MetroList Services in Sacramento. Dave has been in the MLS business longer than most. He’s seen vendors come and go through his market for many, many, years. I fondly call him the “hardest working man in the MLS business”. Anyway Dave wanted to chat and said to me, “You know I’ve come to realize, it’s more important to brand a lead “trusted” to an agent, than it is to brand a listing “trusted” to a consumer”. In a Yogi Bearish type of way Dave was on to something.

But how do you brand a lead “trusted”, or maybe a better word is “legitimate”? Most lead notification comes via email, and you can’t really brand a subject line.

After a bit of back and forth what we came to was that the problem really wasn’t “stupid agents” not responding to leads, but the shear amount of other email filling their inboxes that causes the agent to be distracted. I’m not talking about the “mickey mouse” or “john doe” leads, there will always be those. What I’m more talking about is the desensitization agents get from the promotional email they get from vendors promising them leads/services. Sometimes they can be from the very vendor who they are paying to receive leads from trying to upsell them to a another package.

There have been several solutions to this problem, most of them center on the broker (i.e. Weichert) taking over the lead follow up process and doling out the leads to paying/qualified agents. But the problem still remains for a vast amount of agents wanting to sign up for these lead generation services directly. It’s a huge opportunity.

But it’s time to change the premise of the argument. We (vendors) are so compelled to upsell agents to the next column of products and services we forgot the rules of any long term relationship. We need to establish trust first, then deliver on what we promised. If we do that, the rest will follow.

The big problem in online real estate isn’t just the agents not responding to leads (or using your product), it’s stupid vendors who want to jump from first base to third base too quickly.

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